Friday, May 30, 2014

Heads You Win

I recently got talking to a nice chap from a band called Stats. He said they were influenced by Talking Heads, which is something you don't hear very often.  Like the Associates, like Sparks, they were a singular band who clearly had a devoted following, none of whom seem to have used them as a template for further musical exploration. A shame really. I can't quite see why. Perhaps if they'd have stopped after Remain In Light they'd have been better remembered and more influential (though Mr. Stats and I both were fulsome in our praise of their final vinyl Naked). But listen to Stats and you can definitely hear traces of the nervousness and jitteriness of, say, The Great Curve or Crosseyed and Painless.

I can also hear it in the current offering from Tune Yards (or tUnE-yArDs, if you must). Perhaps there's a TH revival under way? Great video, incidentally. Big up to Brian Cant and Floella Benjamin.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Real McCoy

There aren't enough pop songs based on the novels of Tom Wolfe, whom long-term readers will know takes up a large amount of shelf space chez ItP.  In fact before today I could only recall one, and that was New Kids On The Block's 1988 classic You Got It (The Right Stuff), which is clearly a homage to Wolfe's description of the 1960s space race The Right Stuff.

So it was exciting to hear Tom Vek's Sherman (Animals in the Jungle) this morning, not just because it's a catchy slice of upbeat leftfield electro-pop from one of the smartest guys in the biz, but because it's so clearly a nod towards the Sherman McCoy character in Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, as Vek himself has admitted. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Seeing Double

We got to the Usher Hall a little too late to see Rock Action's Remember Remember last night; they were one of the support acts for Mogwai, the other being The Pastels, who we did get to see.  Is it possible to review Mogwai without alluding to that NME clich√© "Cathedrals of Sound"? Probably not. So instead, in honour of the first support band, we proudly unveil the ItP rundown of the Top Ten Groups With Two Words Exactly The Same As Their Band Name.

10. Bourgie Bourgie
9. Everything Everything
8. Rema Rema
7. Medium Medium
6. Duran Duran
5. Talk Talk
4. The The
3. Django Django
2. Allez Allez
1. Liquid Liquid

Incidentally, Mr. Mister, you don't make the cut. I hope I don't need to explain why.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Ice Ice Baby

Among the many things that have diverted me in the past few weeks, the Winter Olympics is probably the most unlikely. But it's true, the antics of the GB curling teams, the skiers, the snowboarders and the ice skaters have all managed to rekindle a little of the London 2012 magic, even if you can't quite escape the nagging feeling that careening down an icy half-pipe on a glorified tea tray with little to no control over your descent is more a contest of luck than skill. Hell, I even enjoyed the countless documentaries about Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean's ice skating triumph in Sarajevo 30 years ago (and incidentally is it acceptable to say Jayne Torvill in 1984- meh; Jayne Torvill in 2014- phwoar? No? Ok then).

All that  exposure to Ravel's Bolero sent me back to one of my favourite albums of the last few years, Deutsche Grammophon Recomposed by Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald, one of a series in which various artistes from outside the slightly anal word of classical music are invited to remix and generally mess around with the august Deutsche Grammophon catalogue. The artists invited thus far include Jimi Tenor, Matthew Herbert and Edinburgh's very own Max Richter. Now I've never thought very highly of Carl Craig, even though I own a few of his records, because he was idiotic enough to insist on posing on the cover of The Wire holding a gun, the sort of buffoonish behaviour you might expect from the P Diddys of this world rather than supposedly thoughtful techno DJs. Moritz Von Oswald, on the other hand, I have a lot of time for; I mean, you have to tip your hat to someone who was  an occasional member of the Associates as well as founding the Basic Channel label. Anyway, however the workload was divided, between them they came up with a superb piece of work, remixing the aforementioned Bolero, as well as Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The Bolero rerub is nothing short of spectacular, building over an intro section and four movements, from a series of repeated string and horn motifs to a full-on Detroit floor filler. With parts drafting in and out of phase √† la Steve Reich, it's entirely of a piece with Deutsche Grammophon's ethos and never feels forced. This isn't Hooked On Classics. The original Ravel, incidentally, is played by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert Von Karajan, which no doubt explains the exquisite packaging of the CD , featuring numerous piccies of the two remixers in and around Hans Scharoun's still-gobsmacking Berlin Philharmonic building (above). Anyway, purchase or download are recommended highly. There's a taster below, the Second Movement,which gives you a bit of a feel for how it builds over time. And it may also make you think of Jayne Torvill. Which is nice.

Buy the CD here

Friday, January 31, 2014

After the Gramme

In my Albums of the Year last month, I was remiss in forgetting that Gramme had put out a (terrific) long player in 2013, and I'd like to correct that omission.  Gramme chose to return to recording some 14 years after their initial, well-received punk-funk offering (see posts passim); why they failed to capitalise on their moment at the start of the 21st century, just as Simon Reynolds was finishing writing Rip It Up, and when Output Records was the last word in metropolitan chic, is beyond me (though an even more egregious example of missing the boat also arrived in 2013 when Johnny Hates Jazz issued an album 22 years after the last one).  Whatever their reasons for their 14 year hiatus (and they're being slightly opaque about why they've been away), I'm very happy they're back; the sound-- dirty scuzzy raunch-- is still intact, and they seem to be in it for the long(ish) haul, talking about future tours, new albums etc.